It is not uncommon for people to use the word rape in contexts not associated with sexual violation of a person. The word rape, in fact, is often used casually to describe any sort of violation which brings loss of dignity or humiliation or powerlessness. In our country sexual assault is a big problem, many rape cases go unreported across genders and age groups out of fear or shame. However, the word rape remains recklessly sprinkled in our daily banter. Many may think that this is an over-reaction from an over-sensitive lot of feminists, who take offence in the most trivial of things but this casual use of word rape is problematic because it trivialises a grave crime.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde linked the entry of women inside the Sabarimala temple to rape.
  • Hegde’s statement is in poor taste because it shows how the minister has zero empathy towards rape survivors.
  • This casual use of word rape is problematic because it trivialises a grave crime.
  • Unless we start talking about how rape affects people, the casual use of the word rape won’t stop in our society.

Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde recently linked the controversy surrounding the entry of women inside the Sabarimala temple to rape, reports India Today. He said, “The Kerala government should have managed the situation without hurting the faith of the masses. But the state government entirely failed. It’s daylight rape on the Hindu people.” His statement is in poor taste because it shows how the minister has zero empathy towards rape survivors. But Hegde alas, isn’t the only one. In 2016, Salman Khan received a lot of flak for equating his experience of shooting a stunt for his film Sultan to rape.

Rape is often used casually to describe any sort of violation which brings loss of dignity or humiliation or powerlessness.

Celebrities aside, it is very common among men to use rape as an analogy. They use it to describe a defeat in sports or a situation which resulted in very public or immense humiliation. But rape is not a crushing defeat in a game of cricket. Nor is it akin to having a tussle in the wrestling ring. Bruised bodies or egos, offence to beliefs, or a crushing defeat in a game come nowhere near to the trauma which rape survivors endure. By equating them to rape people downplay a heinous crime and the ordeal of survivors of sexual assault. It shows how little they know about what assault survivors go through. This is because not many people care to listen to their traumatic stories, or empathise with their agony. Because if they did, they would know that no experience comes close to how viciously rape crushes a person.

By equating these experiences to rape people trivialise a heinous crime and the ordeal of survivors of sexual assault.

The psychological and physical trauma of rape is what we seldom talk about. We never discuss the kind of struggle it is for the survivors to gather bits and pieces of their former lives. All that amidst the social insensitivity that comes their way. The victim blaming, the name calling and the perennial sense of “impurity” which they carry for the rest of their lives. Violating someone forcefully is just one aspect of the rape. Although it is often the only aspect that people know or talk about. So unless we start talking about how rape affects people, the casual use of the word rape won’t stop in our society.

Perhaps the criticism which Hegde and Khan have earned will deter people from misusing this word. However, their willingness to not use rape so trivially should come from a sense of empathy towards rape survivors and not from fear of backlash.

Also Read : Sabarimala Purification Rituals: Priests Are Deeming Women Impure

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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